MINOR PROPHETS: Zephaniah
Yes, at that time I will deal with all who oppress you:
I will save the lame and assemble the outcasts;
I will give them praise and renown in all the earth,
When I bring about their restoration.
The Book of Zephaniah opens up with an impassioned judgment on all creation: God is ready to wipe the slate clean, sweeping everyone— and everything— off the face of the earth. He’s already done that once before: In Genesis (chapters six through nine), he destroys the earth and all living creatures (save a few) with a Great Flood. Now he’s ready to light everything on fire. What gives?
It’s the same old story. God is fed up with humanity’s wickedness and infidelity. The people of Judah are flirting with other gods, and the nations around them— Moab and Ammon, Ethiopia and Assyria— are just as bad. Zephaniah warns that God will suffer no more idolatry or bizarre pagan practices. Instead, God will bring on the Day of the Lord. Only those who “gather together,” “seek Yahweh,” and “obey his commands” will be spared God’s wrath. This faithful “remnant” will then enjoy a new-and-improved Israel and God’s constant love.
Zephaniah, which means “the Lord treasured” or the “Lord protected,” is the ninth of the twelve Minor Prophets. The book was written in the 7th century B.C. during the early reign of King Josiah, who tried to reform the religious practices of the Israelites. Zephaniah was most likely an establishment guy, a Temple prophet.
Interesting Factoid: Zephaniah 1:14-15 is the basis for the medieval hymn Dies Irae.